Blood on his hands. Blood on the walls. A still body. A slow river of blood like ink on the floor. Hands shaking, anger or fear? Was it true? Could he truly be such a coward?
Broken skin on his knuckles, broken bones in a body. Had he just done that? Had that anger been him? Face in shaky hands, sticky blood all over. Shaky hands. Shaky arms. His entire body trembled.
What had he done?
New wet warmth; tears?
Crying. Shuddering with sobs. They broke from him, so strong he couldn’t stop them. Couldn’t muffle them.
What did it matter?
His daughters were dead.
JT was gone. Lost somewhere is the darkness.
He was too cowardly to try to change anything.
He truly was a fool.
A cough, groan and choked laughter.
Shawn stared in disbelief as the woman sat up, brushing her hair from were it stuck in dried blood.
“You certainly needed that.”
He blinked and blinked but still she was there.
She stood, stretched and walked back and forth. She stopped in front of him, crouched down and grinned. “Feel better?”
His mouth opened and closed on air.
“Thought you killed me?” She dropped to sit. “You don’t have that kind of power.”
“How is that-”
“How long was I out? Did anyone come back?”
“I don’t – no, no one. But-”
“Good.” she stretched out, crossed her ankles casually.
“Who are you?”
She looked up at him. “Why ask questions when you already know the answers?”
“But I don’t know.”
“Ever hear of Liber-shi?”
She snapped her fingers before his face and he blinked back. “I thought I killed you. I know I killed you. What’s going on? What is this place? Who are you? Why am I here? Where’s JT?”
“What brought you here this time?”
“This time? I’ve never been here before.”
She sighed. “Okay then. Why did you come here? To this desert?”
“I wanted to know what happened to my daughters. Why they died.”
“Did you come by yourself?”
“No. JT, my friend. She came also. Why?”
“Then tell me why you’re here.”
She sat up. “Don’t you use your head anymore?” she rapped him hard on the head. “You used to be so sly and clever. I’m half considering making a complaint.”
He slapped her hand away. “You’re insane.”
“Actually, that’s you.” She laughed and lay back down. “What’s the last thing you remember before this room?”
“Why did you enter the caves. You shouldv’ve known better.”
Something tugging at the back of his mind, a thread of a thought. A memory hidden beneath…
I was trying to find JT. She was hurt and we camped here. We got attacked by something…. Running. Yes. There had been running. Couldn’t keep up. There was a secret in the darkness. He wasn’t supposed to …
Lying on the floor.
The woman sitting beside him. Reminded him of a guard animal. His head ached.
“Lack of food probably. You sure don’t hold up well like before.”
“Why do you keep saying before?”
“You know why.”
“No I don’t.” Exasperated. “I don’t know anything!”
She sighed and leaned back against the wall.
“What’s your name.”
“You know what it is.”
He clenched his jaw. “Humor me.”
She looked at him for a long time. It seemed there was a question in her eyes but then she looked away and sighed again. “We stood like boulders in a hall filled with people like a river.”
“What’s that suppos-” his eyes locked with hers.
She dipped her head in acknowledgement.
“You and a boy. Followed my daughters. Why?”
“We were to watch and learn. We… I did not take your family from you.”
“Did that boy?”
She frowned. “He… became… not part of our whole. We were one and he broke us into three and now we are broken again and can not be put back together.” She smiled at him, but her eyes were glassy. “We are all alone in ourselves now.”
“Why would you be watching them?”
“They looked like ours.”
“Ours.” He repeated. Irritated.
“What does it matter now?” she sighed. “No matter what you know, what would you do with what you knew?”
He demanded to know but she lay down, face to the wall, and would not speak again, leaving Shawn to pace, hand on the wall in the darkness, unaware of the footprints he made in her drying blood.